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Chris Hubbard staying with Browns via new contract. What are the team’s plans for him?

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New GM Andrew Berry must have a plan for him

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Last year, the offense sputtered and floundered. Every game it was either multiple penalties, turnovers, dropped passes and poor offensive line play. And at the center of all of this mayhem was right tackle Chris Hubbard.

At season’s end and a disappointing 6-10-0 record, there wasn’t a single Browns’ fan that would have predicted that the team would retain Hubbard’s services. His salary was also a concern: $6,150,000 a season for being rewarded for bad play with a cap number that exceeded $7 million. By simply cutting him, the club would realize a cap savings of $4,868,750 and could bring in somebody else.

The Browns have reworked Hubbard’s contract instead as he agreed to a new contract according to Field Yates of ESPN. The new deal is a two-year contract with a base salary of $2.15 million with just $1 million guaranteed. In the previous deal he was scheduled to make $6.15 million in 2020. There are several incentive bonuses such as snap counts that could up the amount of funds to $5 million and also void the 2021 option thus making him a free agent.

Originally, Hubbard had signed a five-year deal worth $36.5 million with former GM John Dorsey. He has played inconsistent as the starting right tackle and had a poor year last season. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded him out with a 50.6 rating last year. He was assessed with eight penalties and allowed six sacks among 891 snaps.

Since the free agency period began, Browns’ GM Andrew Berry inked former Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin to a three-year deal worth $42 million with a guarantee of $30 million and a base salary in 2020 of $20 million.

With the signing of Conklin, it was obvious the Browns would be moving on from Hubbard’s services. DBN staff writer Matt Wood offered these thoughts:

“So, let’s take a closer look. The Browns don’t need cap space. They have a guy that can provide depth for a year and that can also help ease a (hopeful) first-round pick into playing tackle. That doesn’t even account for the fact that the Browns really can’t bring in any free agent tackles for a visit with everything being shut down thanks to the coronavirus. The Browns didn’t need to cut Hubbard right now. If they cut him next season he only hits them with a $1.2 million hit on the cap.”

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) lays on the ground as offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (74) reaches to help him up following a hit by Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry (58)
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Hubbard is only 29 years old and has started 29 games for Cleveland. But his PFF grading has placed him in the bottom-10 of starting tackles in the league. With Berry now keeping him at a much lower cost, will he compete for the left tackle spot? DBN staff writer Rufio has this opinion:

“There is absolutely no way I would feel comfortable with Hubbard on the left. Generally, the LT needs to be quicker and more agile than the RT, and that isn’t Hubbard’s game. He’s already questionably quick enough to play on the edge on the right side when he is healthy. And that isn’t a transition you often see players make for themselves at age 29. Hubbard was brought to the Browns to play in more of a downhill running game that requires more strength and power, and less athleticism. That skill set translates a lot easier to RG than LT in my opinion.”

Which brings us to another question. Will Hubbard compete for the right guard position? Let’s get Matt Wood back on this one:

“Hubbard HAS played across the line so his versatility is a strength. I don’t think the Browns kick him inside unless they have to. I think he will go into this season as a swing tackle that has starting experience. If injuries come up during the season that could force him inside I wouldn’t be shocked to see him inside. But not until then.”

Rufio believes Hubbard just might slide into that right guard spot:

“There have been rumblings that there are people in the building who really like Hubbard and what he brings to the table. This is the most plausible case for Hubbard to stick with the Browns. I don’t think you go out and give Conklin that kind of contract to play him at a spot other than RT. Bitonio and Tretter seem to have their spots locked down. I could see a situation where a healthy Hubbard might be able to slide inside and play RG for us, alongside new free agent signee Jack Conklin. I don’t love his value there, but it might work for a short-term solution. Maybe.”

Right now, the competition for the right guard spot seems to be incumbent Wyatt Teller along with last year’s sixth-round draft pick Drew Forbes. The left tackle position is wide open after Greg Robinson, who had many issues of his own, was busted with 157 pounds of weed. There are several left tackle free agents still available including Jason Peters, Cordy Glenn and Kelvin Beachum. The Washington Redskins remain looking to trade Trent Williams as another possibility.

And of course, the 2020 NFL draft is rich with left tackle prospects in every round.

Swing tackle. Right guard. Left tackle. Offensive line depth. What plans does Berry have for Hubbard?

Poll

Do you agree with Berry reworking Hubbard’s contract and keeping him?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Good move
    (791 votes)
  • 18%
    No sir, I don’t like it
    (181 votes)
972 votes total Vote Now